The Actor Book Tag

I was tagged by RiverMoose @ RiverMoose-Reads! She is a lovely blogger and you guys should check her blog out!

Rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you
  • Chose your own 8 actors (or you can use the ones I gave you) and create descriptions and compare them to book characters like I did
  • Put in photos of them from the movie roll
  • Answer what book character fits the same description as the movie character
  • List 8 people to tag

1. David Tennant/The 10th Doctor (Doctor Who) — a character who makes you fangirl

Gen in The Thief is one of my favorite characters ever. Just thinking about his ridiculous plans and poorly timed insults makes me smile.

2. James Roday/Shawn Spencer (Psych) — a character who can’t help being brilliant (even if they act stupid)

Sarene from Elantris spends a lot of time playing up the dumb blonde stereotype, but in reality, she is one of the smartest characters I’ve ever read about.

3. Allison Janney/CJ Creg (The West Wing) — a character who can take care of herself

Celaena! Does this need an explanation?

4. Sarah Michelle Gellar/Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) — a badass female character

Vin from Mistborn is incredibly badass and magical. I love her so much 🙂

5. Colin Morgan/Merlin (Merlin) — a character forced to hide who they really are

As you can tell from the title, Verity isn’t actually the main character’s name. There is a lot more to Verity than meets the eye.

6. Summer Glau/River Tam (Firefly) — a character with a tragic and mysterious backstory

Grace from A Madness So Discreet has a really messed up past that has left her in an insane asylum.

7. James Marsters/Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) — a bad boy you can’t help but love

RHYSAND. Need I say more????

8. Catherine Tate/Donna Noble (Doctor Who) — a character literally made of sass

Shahrzad! My favorite part of The Wrath and the Dawn is undoubtably all of Shazi’s sass.


I tag:

And YOU if you think this looks fun!

Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want to Do

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them. I really like this topic, but I can’t take it seriously. I don’t read a ton of contemporary books, so I don’t have a lot of “real life” or practical ideas for this topic.

Instead, I’ve chosen to take a more humorous route. Some of these options are possible, some are impossible, some are just ridiculous.

1. Go to a prep school—because of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

cover the raven boys

Are you telling me that you don’t want to go to Aglionby Academy after reading the Raven Cycle? It would have to be co-ed, but still.

2. Learn to throw knives—because of Graceling by Kristen Cashore

cover graceling

Really, every book with a badass protagonist probably involves throwing knives, but Graceling was the first novel like that that I read, so it gets credit for my (slightly troubling) desire to learn how to throw knives at people.

3. Learn to pick locks—because of The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

cover the thief

A lot of characters pick locks, but none of them do it with quite as much sass as Gen in The Thief.

4. Learn archery—because of The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

cover the wrath and the dawn

Every scene involving archery and Shazi in TWATD was amazing (and hilarious) to read. I don’t just want to learn archery, I want to be as good as she is.

5. Befriend a dozen beauty queens and learn their deepest secrets—because of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

cover beauty queens

Honestly, who doesn’t want to do this after reading this book?

6. Visit the Night Circus—because of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

cover night circus

Ahh, the first impossible thing on this list. I would hand over my life savings to get to visit the magical world that is the Night Circus.

7. Go to outer space—because of the Starbound trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

cover these broken stars

I loved all of the descriptions of space ships and outer space in the Starbound trilogy. I could do without the forces of evil and freaky hallucinations, though.

8. Ride a water horse—because of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

cover the scorpio races

I would love to ride one of the water horses that Stiefvater describes in this book, though preferably one like Corr that wouldn’t kill me. I’d also like to meet Sean Kendrick, as long as we’re talking about impossible things.

9. Learn to paint—because of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

cover court of thorns and roses

Feyre’s love of painting was one of the most gorgeous parts of her character in this book. I don’t just want to paint, I want to love it the way that Feyre loves it.

10. Learn to fly planes—because of Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

cover black dove white raven

All of Wein’s books make me want to learn to fly. The imagery that she uses to describe being a pilot is beautiful and vivid enough to make me forget how often planes crash or people die in her stories.


Do you want to learn/do any of these things? Have you read any of these books? What things are on your list this week?

Book Review: Siege and Storm (Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

As I expected, the second Grisha book was much better than the first, filled with compelling character development and emotional moments.

4/5 stars

cover seige and storm

This review will contain unavoidable spoilers for Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1), but my spoiler-free review for that book can be found here

synopsis for reviews 2

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

my thoughts for reviews 1

While Shadow and Bone left me very “meh,” Siege and Storm solved a lot of the problems I had with the first book and delivered a powerful story that I devoured in a day.

One of my biggest problems with Shadow and Bone had been the lack of explanation of Bardugo’s world building. Thankfully, Siege and Storm took major steps toward fixing this problem. I now feel like I understand the different Grisha powers more, though I still wish there had been a massive info-dump at some point. I know it’s weird to wish for something that is usually considered a writing flaw, but I’m fascinated by the different types of Grisha and I want everything to be explained at least once.

The star of this book is Alina. Her character experiences fascinating growth, developing past the scared girl of book one and into a leader. Her transformation felt natural, especially her hunger for power and the darkness that came with it. I loved the sense of uncertainty that dominated the story; I never really knew if Alina was transforming into a better or worse version of herself.

Another problem I’d had with the first book was a lack of interesting side characters, which was also fixed in book two. I loved all of the privateer characters that Alina met, and I was happy to realize that every character had a secret motive or at least an interesting backstory. The pirate captain was an amazing character, blurring the lines between good and evil and making the story a lot more interesting.

Even Mal, who had struck me as a fairly boring character in Shadow and Bone, grew into his own in this book. I loved seeing how he interacted with the Grisha world and with Alina’s new identity. Though it should have pained me, watching his character fall apart ended up pleasing me, just because it made him so much more interesting to read about.

I am still not convinced that Mal and Alina are each other’s “true loves.” The events of this book put a massive strain on their relationship, pushing each other apart as they grow into different versions of themselves. Though their relationship got more interesting in Siege and Storm, I ended up rooting (sort of) for their breakup.

Which brings me to the Darkling. I don’t buy him as a love interest either, but I missed his presence in the story. He was the most interesting part of the the first book, but he was mostly absent from the second one. I felt like we only ever saw repetitive cardboard cut-outs of him pop up every few chapters, and I think the story was hurt by that.

Even without the Darkling having a major role in the story, the plot of Siege and Storm was gripping. The story was the perfect length, and the pacing was done well. I didn’t want to stop reading from the first page through the last page.

Unfortunately, the ending struck me as very similar to the first book’s ending. I have never been one for cyclical or repetitive endings, and I found myself wishing for more from the last pages. Still, I have already ordered the next book, and I can’t wait to see how the series ends.

Book Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

I went into this book with high hopes after having had it recommended to me by tons of people…and it did not live up to my expectations at all.

2/5 stars

cover these shallow graves

synopsis for reviews 2

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

my thoughts for reviews 1

This book did not work for me, but I never hated it enough to DNF it.

My main problem with this book centers around the main character, Jo—and it’s really frustrating, because on paper, I should have loved her. She was from an old money family that wanted to shove her into a box labeled Good Girl, but she wanted to rebel from that sheltered life to become a journalist (like Nellie Bly…they said about a million times). She was headstrong and spunky and feminist in an era that wanted women to sit down and shut up, and when faced with the murder of her father, she was going to be the one who found his killer, societal norms be damned.

…at least, that’s who she was supposed to be.

In actuality, I found Jo to be naive and annoying. She knew almost nothing about the real world and refused to admit that anyone she knew could have a dark side—while she was investigating a murder. I never fell in love with her spunk; she was rebellious only when no one was watching, and docile in the society she was supposedly revolting from.

Most fundamentally, Jo’s character never struck me as brilliant or journalistic. She was just a girl in over her head trying to get justice for her father…and that would have been okay (really interesting actually) if the author hadn’t spent all her energy trying to convince me otherwise.

Here’s the thing, though. As much as I hated Jo for being clueless, I had to admit that it was at least partially believable. Her entire life had been dedicated to keeping her sheltered and pure, so was it really her fault if she didn’t understand what was going on when people assumed she was a prostitute? Not really—and yet, it was so annoying to read that I ended up hating Jo anyway.

The rest of the characters were very meh. Most of the side characters were one-dimensional, existing to fill a role rather than add nuance or depth to the story. Still, I liked a few of the characters, especially Fay and Oscar.

Eddie, the journalist Jo ropes into helping her investigate her father’s death, suffered similar character flaws. Even once I knew his backstory, he remained a fairly boring character. He never did anything unexpected or revealed a surprising side of himself.

The romance between Eddie and Jo was instalove, pure and simple. Jo would have fallen for the first mildly attractive guy who treated her like a human being…and she did. Eddie was a smart reporter, but there was nothing about him that made him “right” for Jo, and their romance felt more like an inevitable plot device than falling in love.

Of course, Jo was also tied to old money Bram, her presumptive fiance and boring Good Guy. I actually would have liked this story more if the love triangle had been emphasized, but as it was, Jo had two love interests, and I cared about neither.

The writing in These Shallow Graves didn’t work for me. It was very “telly” (instead of “showy”), and a lot of the dialogue felt stilted and awkward. The setting was described well, but there were a lot of details thrown in that struck me as “look at my research” instead of “this adds to the story.”

Finally, the actual mystery in These Shallow Graves was nothing amazing. The plot felt very straightforward, and while Jo might have been shocked when accidental deaths turned out to be murders, I certainly wasn’t.

This book is incredibly long, and unnecessarily so. A faster and shorter plot could have made the mystery feel more exciting, but as it was, each clue was beaten to death before the next one emerged. I think this book could have earned an entire extra star if it wasn’t sooooooooo long.

Still, when the whole mystery was laid out, it was an interesting and layered story. The plot never dragged so much that I gave up on the book. For all its faults, TSG kept me reading.

I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction set during this era and to people willing to forgive their protagonist for certain faults. It is an interesting look at the time period, but the mystery is not strong enough for me to recommend it as a mystery novel.

Overall, this is a book that rubbed me the wrong way from the very beginning, but I believe that someone with different tastes could really enjoy the story and the characters. 

Book Review: Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

A magical story that grabbed me from page one but left me wishing for more in the end.

3.5/5 stars

cover shadow and bone

synopsis for reviews 2

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

my thoughts for reviews 1

This book sat on my shelf for at least a year before I finally picked it up as a part of the Make Me Read It Readathon. Why didn’t I read it earlier? Who knows. I’m glad that the readathon pushed me to read it, though, because it is a pretty great story.

I loved Alina’s character. She’s a girl who has been told she’s average too many times to believe anything else, even when presented with undeniable evidence otherwise. She is terrified of being singled-out, but at the same time, she is dying to be treated like she is special. The paradox created a complex and relatable character, and it was because of her voice that I was drawn into the story.

The world-building was the second part of the story that grabbed me. Magically gifted creatures called Grisha live side-by-side with the human world, using their defending the nation from constant war. Bardugo has obviously put a lot of time and energy into creating an unforgettable and nuanced setting. I loved the magic and the politics that surrounded it, and the Grisha palace and training grounds were amazing landscapes for Alina’s story.

Unfortunately, I felt like Bardugo was holding back on explaining her world-building. She threw around a lot of terms and names that showed that she had created a complex world, but then she never elaborated on a lot of them. There were dozens of kinds of Grisha, but few were explained. I appreciate authors trying to avoid an info dump situation, but I found myself very disappointed that I didn’t get to enjoy the richness of the world-building because it hadn’t been explained.

I had the same slightly unsatisfied feeling about the characters of Shadow and Bone.

Mal was Alina’s childhood friend who made life worth living in the orphanage that they both grew up in. Both of them were part of the army, him a skilled tracker and her a mapmaker before she gets swept away into the Grisha world. I loved the bond that Mal and Alina shared from their childhood; it was palpable and sweet, unlike most of the guy-girl friendships that exist in the YA world.

On the other hand, I didn’t love Mal as a love interest. He was fine—great actually—but I never got that “oh my God they have to be together” feeling that I want from romances. Major parts of the book would have affected me more if I cared more about Mal, but I just never fell in love with him.

The Darkling was an awesome character. He’s the classic hot dark lord trope, and while he wasn’t the most unique character initially, he transformed into a startling complex character. His relationship with Alina was one of the most addictive parts of the plot, and I loved slowly finding out more and more about his true motivations and powers.

I did wish that other Grisha characters had been given more depth. Alina makes one friend, and while she is given layers and personality, the other Grisha that Alina meets are left one-dimensional. Again, I feel like the story could have been a lot more powerful if the side characters had been more compelling.

Nevertheless, I was swept away by the story and I read Shadow and Bone in one day. The plot was paced well—not so fast that I didn’t have time to think, but never slow enough to lose my interest. I loved the plot twists.

Though Shadow and Bone left me wanting more, I trust that the series will improve. The foundation of the series is pretty solid, I love the main character, and the magical world clearly has more to give. I am excited to read more of Bardugo’s work.

Top Ten Books Set Outside the US

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s topic is Books Set Outside the US. I excluded fantasy novels, because I felt like they missed the point of the novel. (Though a few of the books on my list have fantasy elements, their setting is clearly a real place.)

Making this list made me realize how few books I’ve read that are set outside the US (and not in some fantasy land). Most of these are historical novels…I had a really hard time finding contemporary books set in a different country. Any recommendations?

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (France)

cover anna and the french kiss

Cute and romantic, this book made me want to move to France (and find my own Étienne).

2. Die for Me by Amy Plum (France)

cover die for me

I read this paranormal novel years ago, and I loved everything about it: the creative paranormal elements, the romance, and of course, the setting.

3. Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (Ethiopia)

cover black dove white raven

Black Dove, White Raven tells the heartbreaking but inspiring story of two children growing up in Ethiopia as Mussolini prepares to invade.

4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (France)

cover code name verity bigger

This book will shatter you into a million pieces. Set in Nazi-occupied France during WWII, this story of a captured Scottish spy made me cry harder than I’ve ever cried in my life…but is also one of the most touching stories of friendship that you’ll ever read.

5. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (Britain)

cover the other boleyn girl

I read this book a few years ago, and though it took me a while to get through, the story brought history to life in a compelling way. I can’t wait to read more of Gregory’s work.

6. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (an island somewhere)

cover beauty queens

Technically, I have no idea where this book is set, besides it’s on an island somewhere that isn’t America. However, this hilarious story of self-discovery and feminism doesn’t need GPS coordinates to make it amazing.

7. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (all across Europe)

cover wolf by wolf

In Wolf by Wolf, the Axis Powers celebrate their victory in WWII with a motorcycle race across the continent. I loved the characters and the ending shocked me (and I need the next book).

8. The Walled City by Ryan Graudin (Hong Kong’s Walled City, loosely)

cover the walled city

I was horrified when I found out that Ryan Graudin had based the setting of this book on a real place. The pure suffering that she depicted made an amazing backdrop for this story, but it is heartbreaking to understand that it was reality for a lot of people.

9. The Philosopher’s Kiss by Peter Prange (France)

cover the philosophers kiss

Again, I read this book years ago, but the story has stayed with me. Set in 1747, The Philosopher’s Kiss tells the story of Denis Diderot and the writing of the Encyclopedia, a fascinating and tumultuous period in history.

10. All Fall Down by Ally Carter (Embassy Row, in the Mediterranean)

cover all fall down

Have I mentioned recently that Ally Carter is one of my favorite authors? If I haven’t, I should have, because her books have the perfect balance of levity and seriousness, and I turn to them whenever I need to laugh.


Apparently, I really only read books set in France. Has anyone else realized that?

What books are on your TTT? Have you read any of the books on my list?

Book Review: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Once again, Brandon Sanderson blew me away with his impeccable characters and world building.

5/5 stars

cover elantris

synopsis for reviews 2

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

my thoughts for reviews 1

It’s no secret that I love Brandon Sanderson’s writing…a lot. Elantris only increased my respect for him as a writer and my need to read everything he’s written.

Elantris is told from three alternating points of view: Sarene, Raoden, and Hrathen. Though stories with different POVs usually annoy me, I loved every POV in Elantris, and I never found myself bored by any of their plot lines.

Sarene was my favorite POV. She is strong and incredibly smart, and she stands up for herself without being the stereotypical, sassy YA heroine. But her character also has deep-seated insecurities surrounding her femininity and her place in royal society. While these worries could have come across patronizing or sexist, for Sarene they felt real and honest. Her desire to be loved gave her character depth and nuance instead of making her seem weak or needy.

Raoden, crown prince turned plague-ridden exile, was my second favorite character. I loved his down-to-earth honesty and his belief in the goodness of human nature. He takes it upon himself to save the damned Elantrians from themselves, regardless of their plague. His character never felt cheesy or overdone. Raoden is simply a natural leader with an optimistic heart.

Hrathen was a fascinating character. He starts off the book a clear villain, but as the story progresses, it becomes clear that he cannot be so easily defined. His goals run counter to those of Raoden and Sarene, but he is not inherently evil. He believes that he is saving the country, and he is just as brilliant as Sarene.

Sarene and Hrathen covertly battled each other for control of Arelon’s political world. While many books try to depict political intrigue, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that accomplished it so profoundly. Reading Elantris is like being in the middle of a chess game, and I was always surprised by the amazing power plays that Sarene and Hrathen dueled with. There is a constant feeling of uncertainty, though I was never confused as to what each character was doing and I could always keep track of what was going on.

In her struggle to keep Arelon on a positive path, Sarene befriended a group of nobles that had formerly plotted with Raoden to change the political landscape of the country. (I know, it sounds confusing, but everything works together really well.) The nobles were an amazing group of characters, even if I sometimes had trouble keeping their names straight.

Meanwhile, Raoden was stuck in Elantris, the cursed city filled with people who have succumb to a mysterious plague that used to turn people into gods. Raoden starts to take control of the city, trying to help the Elantrians rediscover their humanity.

I loved the way that the Elantris plot line talked about the definition of humanity and ways to survive ordeals. Sanderson’s writing never condemns the cursed people, and through Raoden’s eyes, the reader is able to see the grimy city in a new, gorgeous light. On a basic level, Elantris is a city of zombies, but it became so much more than that.

Raoden also investigated the secret of why Elantris stopped being a city of the blessed and turned to a city of the cursed. I loved the way that the mystery slowly unfolded, and the “solution” to the puzzle was really satisfying and surprising.

Romance does bloom between Raoden and Sarene. They were betrothed for political reasons, but even before they met in person, they could tell they might be able to fall in love. Of course, circumstances got in the way, but the subtle romance that grew between them was sweet and perfect. It isn’t a major part of the plot, but it helped round out the story and put a smile on my face.

As this is Brandon Sanderson, the writing was great. I am definitely biased, but I love his style of prose. The world building is intense: he lays out a world with at least three religions, at least five named countries, three distinct cultures, and a whole slew of political alliances…and yet, I rarely struggled to keep everything straight.

Elantris has a somewhat slow plot, which from a glance at other Goodreads reviews bothered other people. However, since I have read other books by him and expected a slower story, the pacing didn’t bother me. There was so much going on in the story that a faster pace would have made it hard to keep everything straight, and anyway, I was so entranced by the story that I never felt bored.

For fans of Brandon Sanderson—and really, fans of fantasy in general—this is a must-read. The characters are old enough to connect with fans of adult novels, but also young enough that I didn’t fell like I’d strayed too far from my usual YA. The world-building is impeccable and the story is beautiful and complex. I can’t recommend it enough.